With the college football season on the horizon, every fan base is full of hope that this could be the year!
…and even if it isn’t in Murray, they always put on a good show. But can they turn it into wins? Here’s three reasons Murray State could win the OVC.
1. They have the best (throwing) quarterback in the nation
If there’s one thing you can’t pin Murray State’s football struggles on in recent years, it’s the offense. The Racers have finished in the top three in the league in total offense every year since 2010, last season finishing only behind national runner-up Jacksonville State.
But no QB in the league came close to matching K.D. Humphries (pictured above) through the air last season. Humphries threw for a league best 3,778 yards — 600 more than the second-best QB, and 1,000 more than JSU’s Eli Jenkins, while his 22-7 touchdown to interception ratio was the best in the league. Only one QB with more than 100 pass attempts threw fewer picks. (Austin Peay’s Trey Taylor only threw four in 255 attempts, but threw for less than 100 yards a game)
In fact, Humphries 3,778 yards through the air wasn’t just the best in the league last season — it was the best in FCS.
Football is still a quarterback’s game, especially on the college level where scores regularly get into the 30’s and 40’s. (or beyond, as is often in Murray State’s case) A lot of great teams at the FCS level rely on a rushing attack (including JSU) and few really have a great threat through the air.
That’s simply not the case in Murray.
Humphries 3,778 yards through the air wasn’t just the best in the league last season — it was the best in FCS.
2. Humphries has a big target at TE
Of course, it’s no good to have a quarterback if you don’t have anyone to throw it to. Enter preseason all-OVC selection Jesse Blackburn. The 240-pound, 6’3 tight end used his big frame to help average more than 12 yards a catch a season ago. Blackburn has good speed to get separation off the line, and great power to break tackles after making the catch — making him a great threat.
That being said, the WR corps for Humphries is quite new this year — most of his top targets from last year are gone, which likely means an even bigger role for the experienced Blackburn in the offense.
3. The defense was better last season
It’s not exactly a mystery how a team that performs so consistently well offensively can’t manage to finish above .500 in the league on a regular basis: as good as their offense has been, their defense has been equally terrible. Last year marked their fourth straight season finishing at the bottom of the league in total defense, which is sort of impressive. In a way…
As good as the Racers offense can be, they don’t need the defense to lead the league. They just need it to be competitive.
The good news is that there are signs the defense might be, slowly, getting better. The Racers allowed five fewer points per game last year than a year ago — allowing 13 fewer touchdowns on the season. Murray was only one of four teams in the league to gain 10 fumble recoveries, and their 8 interceptions were mid-pack. Neither of those numbers is exactly massive — but it shows some growth for a defense regularly.
they don’t need the defense to lead the league. They just need it to be competitive.
They’ve also got some young talent rising. Marquez Sanford was just one of five freshman to break into the top 50 in the league in tackles, and local talent Jonathan Jackson has proved to be a speedy run stopper at linebacker.